Mr Britling Sees It Through
A profound and very human account of the early years of the war, told from the perspective of a father rather than combatants, but no less revealing. Mr Britling lives in the quintessentially English town of Matching's Easy in Essex. He is a great thinker, an essayist, but most of all an optimist.
When war arrives he is forced to reassess many of the things he had been so sure of. The war brings great change - Belgian refugees come with dreadful stories and everywhere it seems there are young men dressed in khaki. The family's young German tutor is forced to head back to Germany, and Mr Britling's seventeen year old son enlists in the Territorials.
Day by day and month by month, Wells chronicles the unfolding events and public reaction as witnessed by the inhabitants of one house in rural Essex. Each of the characters tries in a different way to keep their bearings in a world suddenly changed beyond recognition. Tragedy ensues, Mr Britling must wrestle with outrage, grief and attempts at rationalisation as he 'sees it through'.
Written in 1916, while the outcome of the war was still uncertain, this is both a fascinating portrait of Britain at war, and a chronicle of events seen from a contemporary perspective, and an insight into H G Wells himself, Mr Britling being a largely autobiographical character.